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Why You Should Be Using Nordic Trekking on Your Next Hike 

by Anne Roderique-Jones

During one of our daily hikes, my guide at Mountain Trek let me in on the secret to sculpted arms. It wasn’t bicep curls or burpees–but instead: Nordic Trekking Poles. Krista told me that prior to her wedding, she used the poles during her hikes and felt fantastic in her dress–and that her arms had never looked stronger. 

Nordic Trekking Poles are an essential tool during a weeklong stay at Mountain Trek Health Reset Retreat. The property is located in the Kootenays, a region of South-Eastern British Columbia that’s set against a backdrop of verdant forests surrounding Ainsworth Hot Springs, Canada, and is ideal for hiking. In fact, the activity serves as the cornerstone for the retreat’s program. 

Before we dig into that, a quick day-in-the-life at Mountain Trek. Mornings begin with a protein smoothie and gentle yoga, followed by breakfast, and a lecture (perhaps on nutrition or sleep health). By 10 a.m., the group is off on their daily hike averaging about 7 miles through undulating terrain–and that’s where those poles come into play. After, it’s free time to cycle through the hot tub, sauna, and cold plunge; followed by another lecture or strength class; an early dinner; massages; and capping off the day with restorative yoga and 8-plus hours of sleep. 

But back to those poles…

Kirkland Shave, program creator and co-owner at Mountain Trek, explains that utilizing poles for postural ergonomics aids in core stabilization for strength and balance while walking on uneven ground, and employs the pelvic and leg muscles by taking short steps in a marching-like stride. He says, “Utilizing Nordic Trekking Poles on flat and uphill terrain employs upper-body muscles for propulsion (increasing cardiac output as more muscles need more oxygenated blood); on the downhills, the poles allow weight transfer off of knees through the arms and upper body muscles, which is especially helpful to increase joint life.” 

This is what’s called “Flow Hiking” and results in being completely immersed in an activity, ultimately lowering the stress hormone. I’ll be honest: It took me a while to get used to timing the poles with my legs and felt a bit like the spatial magnet effect of rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time. But after about an hour, I was flowing and the poles felt like an extension of my arms–almost akin to swimming laps. That feeling of weightlessness was there too, with little pressure on my joints. 

Shave says, "I attribute both the postural ergonomics pole use and a barefoot-walking style to my ability to guide 4 to 5 hikes a week for the past 25 years and remain injury-free with painless joints.” 

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